Week five covering the Combat chapter, and - after our educational detour through Uncle Gary’s Bumper Glossary of Armaments
- we return to the matter of Combat game mechanics. Exactly why the weapons and armour info wasn’t either hived off to the existing Heroic Persona Resources (Equipment)
section of the Chargen chapter, or put at the very end of this chapter, eludes me.
The usual rules
apply. More confident/experienced readers may wish to institute the
Typical English Summer variation (empty the contents of a garbage bin
into a paddling pool, then sit in same while someone sprays you with a
Note: much as I was tempted I won’t be instituting a new Drinking Game rule:
"drink every time the reason for doing a particular thing in ‘this’ fashion rather than ‘that’ more intuitive/logical/user-friendly manner escapes me."
That way lies booze-fuelled madness on a scale fit to make even noted scholar-poet Ollie Reed say "steady on!"
Suffice it to say, my face this week:
The section under examination today is entitled:
More on Damage to Personas
and it opens with a solitary orphaned paragraph of introductory matter at the base of page 255.
Layout 101: this goes at the TOP of the page.
Separating this clump of actually useful page references from the related material is all sorts of bad formatting practise, and the people responsible should feel ashamed of themselves. Gentlemen charge your glasses; I feel we may have regular recourse to them this week.
After a double page spread devoted to the Simplified Armour Tables + a picture our newest field of exploration resumes on page 258. The bulk of the More on Damage material extends across pages 258-275 and is broken up substantially by incidental pictures and several full-page spreads of, well, let's abide by the existing cultural convention and call it 'art', shall we?
I’m sure there was a perfectly logical layout reason for 11 pages of information being strewn across 20 pages, but it's a subtle, esoteric rationale to which I am not privy. Perhaps colour plates could only be inserted into particular signatures. Whatever the reason there’s a lot of art here: some good, some adequate.
Take more than your Wound Level (75% of Physique) or Effect Level (80% of Mental or Spirit) in damage, or get reduced to a zombified state by an Attack to Control
, and you count as being dazed. Dazing is all sorts of not good for your HP, as evinced by this handy list of penalties:
Yes, all of these. "F**ked are you. Crap are you doing." -- Yoda
Dazing is an all-or-nothing effect (there's no 'half-dazed' or 'double dazed') and it lasts until you are back below your EL, or have recovered to 90% of your maximum Physique. So basically being dazed in Advanced Mythus
is a 'you lose' effect.
Dazed status is a marked departure from classic games like AD&D or RQ, where you fight at full effect right up until you fall over dead, or from specific wounds systems like WFRP and RoleMaster. In fact, it appears to have more in common with the 'death spiral' mechanics of such 90s-style games as Shadowrun, Vampire, etc. Whether you like that type of thing is a matter of private conscience.
Take more than your Critical Level (CL) in Physique damage and there's a chance you come away from the whole unpleasant experience with some form of lasting agony souvenir. Critical Level? 90% of Physique damage (not that the multi-page Appendix K: Glossary section sees fit to remind us - bad form!). Be your candy ass more than 90% dead? Roll d% on the Permanent Damage table, deducting 10 per Joss spent.
Enjoy your pain and disfigurement.
Lost Physique Attribute points can be restored by magick, but seemingly as a one-time-only event (the rules are hazy in their wording). A healer can use Alchemy to mitigate Permanent Damage, -10 to the d% roll per 40 STEEP. We are warned that "...when the magickal restoration is finished, no further Heka use will affect the persona’s wounds/scars, and the remaining scars are permanent.
" As an additional kicker: if any Attribute is still below 6 after healing the HP must be retired.
*meh* Dull. RoleMaster
handle character mutilation with more panache.
An HP who takes take their WL or more in Physical damage must be treated within PMCap Battle Turns or roll on the Shock Table. Ditto anyone who requires daily medical treatment and doesn’t get it. (Here would have been a good place for an actual numbered page reference to the healing rules on pp274-275, but no.)
It is nice to see thick, rich, dense lashings of jargon slathered across the page like gravy on a Sunday lunch: I’d almost forgotten what game I was reading for a second. (*gluk gluk*)
How you check for shock? Roll d% +/- HP’s PMCap and other modifiers, compare to table:
We’re warned that any Attribute dropping to 0 = death, which is an old friend of a rule by now. The reader is also reminded (again) that any character with less than 6 in any Attribute should be retired as "...that persona will be useless as an HP.
" Really? Reading these words from the man who pioneered ‘3d6 in order’ is rather sad-making.
Doubly irritating is this little throwaway line:
No! Unacceptable! See also: any and all previous Lets Read Mythus
rants on incomplete rules in a 400-page rulebook.
So far, so Mythus
: a bunch of present, but hardly correct, rules that manage to combine prescriptive with vague in the usual ‘crap sandwich sprinkled with extra jargons’ fashion. For example, the reader is explicitly cautioned in the Permanent Damage description to roll for such damage _before_ checking for Shock. I’ve no idea why this should be the case, given that any character in Shock is going to be unconscious anyway. Seeing as both Dazing and Shock are dependent upon WL, while Permanent Damage is dependent upon (more severe) CL it would make more procedural sense to order things thus:
Dazing > Shock > Permanent Damage
Why bother checking for limb loss immediately if your pretendy pet person is going to be in a coma for anything up to 1d6 months? It may be something to do with healing procedures, or with the in which Attribute losses are multiplied together, but the text is gnomically silent on this.
Damage from Other Physical Injury
Dazing, crippling and shock trauma are dispatched in less than a page, leaving most of pp259-274 (minus art) to cover rules for other sources of physical injury. To whit:
- Acids and Alkalies (sic)
- Cold & Exposure
- Electricity & Lightning
- Fire & Flame
- Heka-Engendered (Other)
- Motion Damage
- Poisons and Antidotes
- Starvation & Dehydration
- Insanity & Madness
- Other Susceptibilities
Some of these get a paragraph, others a couple of pages. Some, like asphyxiation/drowning, are omitted entirely, even though the garotte makes an appearance in the weapon lists. I’m not entirely sure why some of these rules are in a Combat chapter, rather than a more general adventuring/survival rules chapter, but I find myself coming to the position that rules for offensive starvation, combat diseases and/or martial dementia are sadly under-explored facets of fantasy adventure gaming.
Another layout gripe: the heading hierarchy is b0rked. All the sub-headings in this section are boldfaced only, with a tendency to blur into one long undifferentiated textwall. Even the page-long rules for Poison & Disease suffer from boldface-only headers. By contrast individual poison/disease descriptions are called out with big, fat "h2" headings. Poor formatting choice, one that I will now proceed to improve upon.
Acids and Alkalis
Concentrated acid and/or war salts inflict the Chemical damage type. All such substances have a Damage Rating and a Burn Duration, mechanical conceits which should look more than a little familiar to flask rogues* and old school burning oil fans. A typical flask of caustic joy will cause 4d6 damage (multiplied by Exposure roll) to a single target and retain its potency for 2 AT (about 10 minutes Earth time, 1 turn D&D time). Some corrosives have an open-ended Burn Duration, for extra hilarity potential.**
* Gamer Jargon: flask rogue - a D&D3E
exploit which used a combination of demijons of acid/alchemists fire + the reduce object spell + sneak attack damage to cause hideous damage per round.
** Fancy burning a tunnel to the Inner Aerth using the power of vitriol? Talk to an alchemist buddy...
Cold & Exposure
Chillification or sauna damage. Very hard science-based. Well, there are some very specific numbers. Does that count as scientific?
Anyone outside the ‘ideal’ temperature range for their state has to make a "Moderate" (x2) DR roll versus their PM Category or become Dazed until they warn up/cool down. Outside the ‘tolerable’ temperature range that DR changes to "Hard" (x1). Immersion in water at the lower end of the temp scale increases DRs by +2. Fear ice water: it lusts for the death of your blubberless monkey ass.
On top of that outside the ‘tolerable’ range takes 1 point of Physical damage per AT (5 minutes) of exposure. Cold can also inflict Permanent (limb-stealing) Damage (as above). Enjoy your frostbite.
These are rules of LotFP
-ian brütality that will make your characters fixate on the warm/cold weather gear section of the kit list and demand the invention of the barometer (or the pixie sparkle pseudo-science Aerthish equivalent) as soon as possible. If killing characters one extremity at a time is your thing, the heat/cold rules in AD&D Dark Sun
or in the d20 SRD
were less fiddly and prescriptive.
Two pages of rules for contracting coughs, agues, murrains and fevers? This pleases Father Nurgle. It pleases me rather less; there's plenty of necrotising wordybloat here that could be jettisoned to no loss. (*gluk gluk*)
As will probably be no surprise to man nor beast by now diseases in Hatpants Gibblets
come complete with their own stat blocks and rules. Vide:
What do all those headings mean?
(given as CON-T in the example diseases above): this is the Contagiousness Rating of the disease, a measure of how infectious it is if exposed. This is usually around 50-60 for something powerful and nasty like Typhus or the Black Plague, higher for real horrorshow ailments like AIDS (cited as an example of such in the original text) or Ebola. CON-R is opposed to the higher of the HP’s Physical Categories* in an opposed K/S-vs.-K/S contest.
Disease wins = Persona contracts the lurgy in all its manflu-riffic glory
Tie = Persona becomes a carrier
Persona wins = effects shrugged off
The DR of the contested roll can be modified one way or the other by degree of exposure and state of health.
* By the rules you can fight off a disease using your manual dexterity and reflexes, which seems... unusual. Maybe you're adept at dodging sneezes, I dunno.
how long you wander around coughing on people before your world explodes in 'orrible gooeyness. If you’re a carrier the disease can remain active in your system for up to 10 times the incubation period.
Strength and Short Term Effects:
Each disease has a Strength Rating, which is used to buy effects according to the table below:
"I’ll take a grande madness with six Spirit damage per week and extra Dazing, space for pustules."
Long Term Effects:
effects that persist after the disease is reduced to Str 0. Insanity and Permanent Damage are the two examples given.
Additional titbits extracted from the mess of texwall:
- Herbalists can treat diseases, with a successful roll reducing Strength Rating by 10% of their skill level (20% for a Crit). As the disease’s Strength is reduced so are the effects.
- Fighting off a disease with bed rest and whisky uses the normal healing rules (see p274), but instead buys off poison Strength Rating rather than fixing damage. Herbalism and/or Oriental Medicine skills can accelerate this recovery.
- Damage inflicted on TRAITS is removed from whichever Attributes the player elects.
- Physical damage afflicted by a disease can cause Shock and Permanent Damage.
Although mechanically logical the Advanced Mythus
disease rules are a step backwards in breadth and usefulness from those found in the Disease and Parasitic Infestation rules on pp13-14 of the One True DMG. I’m sure the two would mesh together more than adequately though.
Electricity & Lightning
Crackling, arcing, fusing and charring: all the good stuff. Damage is inflicted per the table below:
The rules for current electricity are downright nasty! If you grab something electrified, you can’t let go and will continue to take damage. Anyone who grabs you also becomes part of the circuit. If an electrical current hits water anything within d% yards of the source suffers this electrocution shock effect.
Are stunlocking electrical effects and bloodtrocution
relevant to the interests of Old School GMs? Who can say? But I suspect you could power the world if you managed to harness the energy of all the Evil GM Hand-Rubbing.
Fire & Flame
In the words of one of America's most erudite and influential cultural critics: "Heeheeeheeheeeheheee. Fire! Fire! Hee hee. Fire’s cool.
" (pause for extended twiddly guitar solo/beer break
) Everyone's favourite exothermic reaction does damage per round + chance of igniting. What’s not to love?
Extinguishing your crispy self through the magic of stop, drop and roll
(screaming in agony and flailing optional but recommended) is a DR "Moderate" roll vs. PM Category.
No rules for smoke inhalation though? Oh Gary, your completism-fu is weak today.
A one paragraph placeholder noting that many Heka-induced forms of pain use the surrounding rules unless otherwise stated. Nice to know, but a waste of a para.
The joy of crashing, banging or falling into things. HPs suffer 1d6 damage per 10’ fallen/dropped (déjà vu!) or per 5mph the object was moving. This is multiplied by an Exposure roll (x1d6) to establish exactly how inelegant and wince inducing the impact was, for a grand total of 1-36 damage per 10' fallen. Light objects may do 1d3 damage per 10’, large and heavy ones more. Remember that armour is usually not much good against Impact damage.
Do you have falling rules? This is probably of little interest.
Dragon Warriors - still the best falling damage illustration
Poisons and Antidotes
Another skinny little chunk of rules disguising itself in the customary Mythus
textual fat suit (*gluk gluk*). This time the subject matter is fun with toxins.
Any resemblance of Fink Angel to your humble author is purely coincidental.
poisons have a statblock similar to that of diseases, thus:
Ah, so that’s where D&D 3E cribbed its ideas.
is the Strength Rating of the poison ("Gorsh, yu don't say?"). This is 1-100 for mundane poisons, with <20 being weak, and >60 being very powerful.
shelf life after creation, plain and simple.
time to onset.
Six types, although the distinction between liguid and oil is rather too subtle for my simple brain.
Injure or Incapacitate. All poisons are one or the other. I've no idea if 'both' is an option.
- Injury poisons do Physical damage equal to their STR at periods = Effect Rate x1 and x2, with a last little fillip of 50% of STR at Effect Rate x3. Instantaneous poisons do the whole STR x2.5 at Effect Rate x1. (That make sense?)
- Incapacitating Poisons cause sleep or paralysis for hours = STR.
Poison can cause Shock and Permanent Damage, with a ‘severed’ organ being damaged by the poison. Only rare poisons cause loss of Attractiveness.
Fortunately there are ways of preventing the old "More entirely cyanide-free tea vicar?
" routine from getting out of hand.
- Antidotes are treated as being functionally similarly to poisons, although they take effect instantaneously. Antidotes oppose their STR to that of the poison. Treat any positive remainder as the poison's Strength Rating.
- The First Aid skill can reduce poison by STR = first aider’s STEEP.
Because this is Gary’s game, and EGG is no moralistic pussy when it comes to the heroes daubing their blades in venom
, you can merrily brew your own poisons (and antidotes) with the Toxicology
may also be helpful.
Because Advanced Mythus
is an unabashed caster fap game (with several citations for public indecency in this regard) magic-slingers can make their own poisons, which are just plain better than those available to dirty muggles. Yes, wizardy types can totally whip up potions of gagging, choking and throat clutching as a function of their broader skill base. The reader is directed to Mythus Magick
for the full skinny, but its nice that the subject gets at least some attention in the core rulebook.
can be up to 99 for natural and Preternatural poisons, up to 199 for Supernatural poisons. I think the latter are demon venom and suchlike. I think...
Depends on Heka expended.
Buy with Heka.
Injury or Incapacitate.
As well as the mundane methods Heka-Engendered poisons can also be administered by:
- Ray (field)
These 'magic poisons only' physical forms kind of rock IMO. The idea of a basilisk poisoning you with a Paddingtonian
hard stare, or Heroic Personas going down to poisonous blasts of radiation, or some poor sap carefully deciphering the words "Caution: these runes toxic if read. Oh.
" fill my cold black heart with wicked glee.
Although there’s definitely room for a bit of simplification I quite like the Mythus
poison rules. The division of poisons by effect, rather than by method of administration as in One True DMG implies that the two games' poison rules might be used in a complimentary manner. Whether this was deliberate and intentional on the part of EGG is debatable, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Starvation & Dehydration
Dying from lack of food and water. Slow, ignominious, unglamorous: I’m sure readers of Let’s Read Mythus can empathise.
Starvin': 3 days + PMCap hours, then Dazed. For every day over 5 take 1d6 Physical damage.
Thirstin': 1 day + PMCap hours, then Dazed. Every 4 hours without water take 1d6 Physical damage.
Physical damage inflicted by starvation or dehydration cannot be healed unless and until the character first satisfies their hunger or thirst.
Not bad, but LotFP
already does similar for the "save vs." crowd. And I can think of another 'debilitating deficiency in an essential of life' that was tragically overlooked here. *cough, cough*
Insanity & Madness
Another big chunk, the substance of which The Man Himself had already dispatched faster and better back in the day. The rules spread across two full pages, but only a column or so is actual rules. The rest of the textblock is descriptions and potted rules for handling the various insanities.
uses a pretty orthodox Sanity Check mechanic, with rolls triggered by one of six criteria:
- Character takes Spiritual EL in damage (DR Hard)
- Character takes Mental EL in damage (DR Moderate)
- Witness death of a loved one, or happen upon their mutilated body (DR Moderate)
- Subject to prolonged torture (DR Difficult to Extreme)
- Confronted by extremely powerful monster/supernatural being (DR Hard)
- Effect induced by magic item or spell.
Two separate rolls are made against the characters MR and SM Categories (trans. Int + Wis), with each failure inflicting an additional 1d3 damage in that TRAIT for each level of DR (Moderate = 2d3, Hard = 3d3, etc). If _both_ rolls are failed the character gains one or more mental aberrations, with the total damage inflicted being used to purchase eccentricities from the table below.
On the menu today...
Insanities gained are supposed to be kept secret by the player and role-played as appropriate. All the other players are expected to work out what has happened to their increasingly erratic friend.
Mental Aberrations are usually permanent, at least until diagnosed and healed by skilled care or magick. Insanities induced by poisons, drugs or Attacks to Derange
are not, and generally last only as long as the effect that induced them. Of course, if an induced insanity pushes the HP over his effect level there's a good chance a 'death spiral' of mental degeneration will kick in. Clever that.
These are OK rules, but nothing that Call of Cthulhu
didn’t already do just as well. One thing that does bug me is the terminology: why are ‘madness’ and ‘insanity’ deemed two different things in this particular Gygaxian schema? Any mental health professionals out there have a handle on the logic?
"Physical, Mental and/or Spiritual Damage can be inflicted by certain kinds of things being ingested, touched, proximate, or perceived (seen, heard, and/or smelled).
" You can be excused a slight flicker of déjà vu there in that the preceding sentence looks more than a little familiar to someone who read the earlier section on Susceptibilities (back on page 230
). We’re informed that *these* Susceptibilities are distinct from the ones discussed earlier. Why? No idea. Gary says so. Shut the hell up!
Because the preceding list of stuff to be violently, dangerously allergic to wasn’t thorough enough we are given an even more big-ass list:
Just as in our world anything is someone's fetish, so in Mythusworld everything is someone's bane.
[froth mode engaged]
The organisation of the (actually very simple) rules in this section is a topic-hopping word salad with a definite ‘deadline panic’ reek about it. You think I’m overstating the case? Ok, take a look at this and then tell me that it’s a model of brevity and clarity:
The above was not from some kid’s mimeographed joke game from the early 80s. That was an actual piece of published rules writing
. Written by supposed professionals. In 1992.
Does this impress me?
When parsed for sense it turns out there are two paragraphs of rules plus example regarding Contact Susceptibility. Then a column of nested bullet points about Allergic Reactions, of which there are seemingly two types: Severe Reaction and plain old Allergy. Finally we get a bunch of guff about Proximity Susceptibilities, along with a table of degrees of Susceptibility on page 274, which probably should have been front-and-centre.
It would make much more sense to define Contact and Proximity, and only then
talk about the mechanics of Allergic reactions. That is simple procedural logic: define area of effect first. In fact it’s so simple, logical and intuitive that’s the order I’m going to look at the section. It might not be correct in terms of the order the Blessed Gary wrote things, but I refuse to be complicit in such obvious wrong.
Contact: Take damage per round if you are touched with, are proximate to, or perceive the inimical substance/stimulus. Amount of damage varies, as does whether you take Mental, Physical or Spiritual damage, or more than one type.
How far is sensory range for the purposes of Contact? That’s covered under Allergic Reaction, sub-type B, sub-sub-heading 2 (once again, not kidding). Sound = 150’, visual perception = 30’, smoke = 20’, odour = 10’.
Proximity: Take damage if you’re within a set distance of the thing you’re allergic to, aware or not.
Allergic Reaction: remain in contact with your bane for a certain period of time; take damage (up to 1 per CT). If exposed for a prolonged period suffer side effects, for example "...a lowering of one of its Attributes, its movement capacity, or some other ability such as Perception, combat, etc."
Severe Allergic Reaction: As Allergic Reaction + suffer Dazing (q.v.).
And that’s the second set of Advanced Mythus
Susceptibility rules, reduced to 155 words + 1 table and translated into a form comprehensible to busy GMs. That definitely counts as a page of wordswordswords reduced to one simple rule
in my book.
[froth mode disengaged]
Could you make use of these rules? Well, that depends. Most classic gamers will disregard this Susceptibilities section as needless pixel-bitching that they can handle with their own common sense; new schoolers will despise these rules as written for a lack of clarity and completeness. If you're going to re-write them so that they make sense, you might as well just institute your own Fatal Weakness rules.
Sadly, that conclusion on the subjectomabob of Susceptibilities, ver2 is also my general conclusion on the More on Damage to Personas
section as a whole. There are a couple of half-decent rules hidden in the undergrowth of this particular ruined temple of blahblah, but whether hacking them out of the morass of surrounding material is worth it is an open question. The poisons rules are okay, and the idea of contesting a disease with opposed rolls has the germ of a fun medical mini-game in there somewhere, and the electrocution rules are nicely bloodthirsty, but apart from that there’s not much to write home about.
Three good ideas in 9 pages or so? I’ll happily drink to them, but as a final total it’s pretty sad; definitely not up to Zak’s One Good Idea per Page, Minimum
rule. This part of Batman's Slippers
has lots of fuss over nothing busywork, and plenty of ‘done better elsewhere’.
The Combat chapter ends with two pages of healing rules (pp274-275). Yeah, healing rules. I know, I know:
Mr Sleepy Office Bunny: he speaks for us all.
Healing rules are a necessary element of an RPG, but no one actually raves about them. I mean, when was the last time you indulged in wild-eyed, zealous fanboyish frothing about a game because of its healing rules? Nope, me neither. (braces for answers in the comments, yer smart-alecs)
Normal Physical Healing
This is pretty standard. You heal n
damage/day, more with medical treatment ("Prime Rate"), none if exerting oneself. Nothing you haven’t seen a thousand times before then. For once in /AM/ history the brawny-but-dumb catch a break in that the more beefcake you are the faster you heal:
"Prime Rate: +1/2 per day": I just saved you a whole column.
Note that anyone with less than an average of 6 in the three Attributes in their PM Category cannot heal damage naturally at all
. This gives a bit of context to the earlier admonition that characters with stats lower than 6 should be retired, but also means that the physically puny in Mythusworld are entirely unable to recover from injuries. (Probably their own fault for not being outside the pure blooded
Heka-slinger master race.)
We also get a last couple of name checks to our new friends Dazed and Shock, one of which (paraphrase: "Your Shocked checkbox is unticked after 24 hours of bed rest") might have been an actual useful footnote 16 pages ago.
Normal Mental and Spiritual Healing
Use the above Healing Rates table, but swap in the MR or SM Categories for PM (*gluk gluk*) and replace "per 24 hours" with "per 12 hours". Prime Rate is obtained through the ministrations of an Oriental Medic or Yogi.
This is basically a placeholder paragraph reminding the reader that various "...Heka-Generating K/S Areas, such as Priestcraeft, Religion, Mysticism, Alchemy, Herbalism, and Yoga...
" are the place to go for healing magic. Good to know.
You can grow favourite lopped off bits back either through the power of certain 1337 skills, or by resorting to magick. Again, good to know.
The restoration of Attribute points lost to age or Permanent Damage is a rejuvenating magick exclusive. Who knows, maybe in Mythusworld all those stupidly expensive snake oil cosmetics actually do work.
Life Restoration by Casting
Two paragraphs which repeat the point that a resurrection attempt is a one-time-only deal twice. Jeez! We get it EGG: there’s no D&D-style ‘revolving door of death’ in Mythus
So two pages of 'dull but necessary' then. Much as expected. We pass on without regret or backward glance.
a "Lazy McBastardson phones it in" post of art criticism for chapter 12 before we fearfully lift the lid off the sepulchre of chapter 13: Heka and Magick
*. You know, I’m growing to loathe and despise that particular mis-spelling. On the bright side though, it has given me a possible nerd rap pseudonym: Extraneous K.
* Thankfully no relation to the pewter molesting kitschmongers at Myth & Magic
Pic Sources: Dangerous Journeys: Mythus
rulebook, Dragon Warriors
book 1, Jollyjack's Spider & Scorpion
, teh lectrowubz
Edited 17/07/2012 (to add correct healing table and some extra snide.)